Sam Elliott Opened Up on Childhood and Growing Up Around ‘Men’s Men’

by John Jamison

Hear one word out of Sam Elliott’s mouth, and it comes as no surprise whatsoever that he grew up around a group of rough men. In this case, “rough” is meant to convey how Elliott’s father and his peers were all true Outsiders in more than one sense of the word.

If you’ve never encountered a backcountry ranger in the middle of a national forest, let us assure you, those people know a thing or two about roughing it in the great outdoors. And that goes for men and women alike. But Sam Elliott’s father was a guy along those lines. He worked for the Department of the Interior and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which meant Elliot grew up surrounded by the wilderness and people who made careers of inhabiting it.

In a 2017 interview with NPR, the “Road House” actor talked about the impression he had of the adults in his life from an early age.

“Consequently, I was outdoors a lot in my lifetime. And I was with my dad and my – and his peers, who were all men’s men and outdoorsmen,” Elliott said. “All had incredible work ethics and were all good men. And they were really the ones I think that I learned what kind of a man I wanted to be when I grew up.”

And what a man Elliott has become. He fell in love with movies from an early age and knew he wanted to pursue acting, despite the career being a laughable prospect to many of his peers.

Sam Elliott’s origins fit his persona like a glove. The iconic actor has played countless rough and tumble characters over the years. And, of course, he has drawn inspiration from those figures of his youth. None more so than his father.

Sam Elliott Takes After His Father

We can’t speak to whether or not Henry Nelson Elliott had as husky a baritone voice as his son Sam. But according to Elliott’s sister, he’s exactly like his dad.

Sam Elliott was only 18 years old when his dad died of a heart attack at 54. Sadder still is the fact that Henry Elliott didn’t necessarily approve of his son’s career choice. And yet, Sam wanted nothing more than to be the type of man his father was.

“You know, I didn’t get to know him near as well as I would love to have. But I have – I got enough of him that, you know, my sister tells me all the time – my sister Glenda – she tells me all the time, you’re just like daddy,” Elliott continued in the interview.

The “A Star Is Born” actor never resented his dad for disapproving of his career choice. He just wanted to make him proud by doing the thing he loved.